As the half a dozen regular readers of this column have told me, the book reviews I occasionally do have proven to be popular. But in Australia, getting your hands on wrestling books is particularly difficult. Borders used to stock them, but they were also charging a fortune (for example, $54.95 for Jericho’s last one); that’s a moot point anyway as Borders in Australia has gone under. That leaves Amazon.com. Now, they are quite good, especially with the Australian dollar so strong, and recently I’ve been getting packages in three weeks. But the postage makes that also cost prohibitive (a $15 paperback tends to attract around $12 postage), and I don’t have a Kindle, not that many wrestling books are on Kindle yet. (Speaking of Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Gepp/e/B006QGIYBY/ is something you should check out.)
However, I do have an Amazon wish-list, and last Christmas one of the books I got from a loving relative was Mick Foley’s Countdown To Lockdown (the revised paperback). Of his other books, I have only read Have A Nice Day, which I enjoyed immensely, so I was looking forward to this one. But I thought I should watch Lockdown 2009 to get some sort of context. The local store that stocks wrestling DVDs did not have it. TNA’s online shop did not have it. Amazon did not have it. I spoke to a few people and they said I should torrent it. Not knowing how to do this, I spoke to a friend, and he said no problems. Three weeks later – problems. No go. And he found only about half of it on YouTube. I tried asking the other Pulse writers, but I’m in Australia, the rest are in the northern hemisphere, and that proved awkward. But I then discovered a second hand copy in a shop for 50 cents. Voilà! Here I am.
Countdown To Lockdown is an odd book. On the one hand it is well written, easy to read, and full of that Mick Foley humour from the first book. On the other hand, it wanders all over the place. Now, I am a bit of a fan of non-linear narrative, but this was really jumping. We have a diary leading up to the Sting/Foley showdown at Lockdown 2009 interspersed with other chapter anecdotes, ranging from meeting famous people to his last days in the WWE. And, unfortunately, he holds back a bit, and not much of it is grippingly interesting. He at one point mentions people don’t want to slag Vince McMahon because they are waiting for “that” phone call; well, this book says Foley was doing the same thing.
The tales are interesting, but the diary aspect is not. It just does not work, as it feels like nothing was set in stone. I have not read Hardcore Diaries, so I don’t know if this is how things were in that book, but here it just does not fit. If anything, it makes this big show-down seem like just another match.
And this leads to a certain schizophrenia running through the book. On the one hand there is the self-deprecating “I’m-so-bad-at-this” tone, but on the other hand Foley puts over his TNA work as some of his best ever. And, as you shall see, in my opinion he’s deluding himself there, at least as it pertains to Lockdown.
It feels like this book was written just to have something to write about in TNA. Not that it was a contractual obligation, but that it was like Foley had something to prove to some one somewhere – most likely Vince McMahon and the rest of the WWE, who treated his family as outsiders and he felt did not give him his due after he made his come back to the company, and especially after becoming an announcer. There is a definite tone of bitterness, and “I’ll show you” running through it all, which does take away from the narrative force. And of course, there’s the preaching, especially near the end. While he has some very valid points to make, and he makes them well, he also makes them often, hammering his opinions home like blunt force trauma.
Then comes the afterward to the afterward in my edition, where he basically says TNA wasn’t that great after all, and he’s happy to be a shill for WWE again. *Sigh!*
Don’t get me wrong – the book reads like Foley is telling the stories, which is a positive thing. However, whereas Have A Nice Day was Foley at a bar regaling his mates with his stories and life, this is Foley on stage in one of his infrequent stand-up gigs, trying so very hard to entertain the audience, who he knows are a paying one.
This is an okay book. I can only recommend it mildly, and even then I think you need to watch Lockdown 2009 to get its context. I think the best word to describe this is disappointing… but that sums up most of Foley’s TNA stint.
So… on to the show. Lockdown 2009.
First of all, six sides of steel is great, and I still think getting rid of the 6-sided ring was a daft idea. Second, I much prefer the mesh cage that you can see through, making the action easier to follow, than the red bars. Thirdly, I also like that they are in Philadelphia and not the Impact Zone.
Pre-show sees Danny Bonaduce face off against Eric Young. Bonaduce was not great, but he certainly didn’t embarrass himself (although his senton was wimpy), and he took his bumps really well for a celebrity, especially the gore from War Machine Rhyno. The pre-show, by the way, explained the show okay (but only okay), and was quite a dull affair.
‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ was a really good choice for theme song, for what it’s worth.
Match 1: Jay Lethal v Kiyoshi v Consequences Creed v Sheik Abdul Bashir v Suicide (c) – X-Division Xscape match. Fast and furious, the same way WCW used to start with the cruisers. The double team moves by Lethal Consequences were just superb. Kiyoshi pinned by both Lethal and Creed. Bashir pins Creed with the WMDDT. Bashir pins Lethal after Suicide hits the suicide solution. Now it’s escape rules between Bashir and Suicide. Bashir almost escapes by drop-kicking the cage door! Suicide wins by jumping off the top of the cage onto security and Kiyoshi.
Winner (still champ): Suicide
Really good match without just being spot, spot, spot. I enjoyed it. 8/10
Match 2: Madison Rayne v Sojourner Bolt v Daffney v ODB – Queen of the Cage Match. You know, I distinctly remember thinking how much better the TNA Knockouts were than the WWE Divas, at least in the ring. Well, if that was the case, the Divas of 2009 must have been really pathetic because this match was not a good one. Daffney was the best worker, for what it was worth. Ending comes when ODB spits something in Bolt’s face and powerslams her.
Winner (and Queen of the Cage): ODB
Not good at all. Next. 3/10
Jeff Jarrett arrives! He’s got a bag on wheels! His car is black! Wow!
Match 3: IWGP Jr Tag Team Championship – Homicide & Hernandez (Latin American Xchange) v Naito and Yujiro (No Limit) v Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin (Motor City Machine Guns) (c). Much too fast to call. Another good match, but unlike the opening one, this was just spot, spot, spot. That was it. All offence, all of it high-impact. Twelve minutes of wow! End comes when MCMG hits the Made in Detroit (sliced bread/powerbomb combo) on Naito.
Winner (still champs): MCMG
Not a lot of flow in this match, and it highlights an issue with the X-Division and the cruisers in WCW before them – not selling the big moves for longer than 3 seconds. 6.5/10
Match 4: Matt Morgan v Abyss – Doomsday Chamber of Blood Match. In order to pin your opponent, they have to be bleeding first. Not a first blood match, then. The whole Dr Stevie thing was retarded. Abyss is overrated, and looking at this match, why hasn’t Matt Morgan improved in the three years since then? End comes when Stevie distracts Abyss, Morgan lowblows him and sort of chokeslams him onto some tacks.
Winner: Matt Morgan
This was not a good one. And they gave this more than the tag match before it? 4/10
Match 5: Angelina Love v Taylor Wilde v Awesome Kong (c) – Women’s Knockout Title. I said it before – how bad was WWE for this to be the best women’s wrestling on TV? Ending came when… Oh, look, it just came, okay?
Winner (new champion): Angelina Love
Kong tried to carry them to a good one, but Love was not good and Wilde looked lost. At least it was better than Queen of the Cage. 4/10
Match 6: Beer Money (Robert Roode & James Storm) (TNA Tag Team Champions) v Team 3-D (Brother Ray & Brother Devon) (IWGP Tag Team Champions) – Philly Street Fight, Title-For-Title. The fact they left the cage made this match feel different, and the fact it was a street fight played to the strength (the only strength at this stage of their shelf-life) of Team 3-D. And it shows why Beer Money were one of the greatest tag teams ever – they could not only hang with this hardcore match, but would later go on to hang with MCMG. It’s a fight, a brawl into the stands, and it feels like an old ECW match, which is exactly what I am assuming they were going for here (and what the crowd wanted, judging by the chants). All the normal Dudley spots are there, including the finish with Roode taking a 3-D through the table.
Winner (and new TNA champions): Team 3-D
Look, this wasn’t bad, but it was by-the-numbers, and I could call spots before they happened. 22 titles for the former Dudleys. Apparently. 6.5/10
Team Angle is confident. Kurt Angle explains the entire main event situation in less than 5 minutes. Not a bad promo, all-in-all.
Match 7: Team Angle (Kurt Angle, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Kevin Nash) v Team Jarrett (Daniels, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Jeff Jarrett) – Lethal Lockdown. Jarrett wimps out of being the first in, even though I thought that’s what captains did. But we get Angle v Daniels to start, Daniels rocking the Merv Hughes moustache (obscure Australian sporting reference there). Slow start. Booker T in. Remains slow, despite the 2-on-1 advantage. AJ Styles in. Now it starts to pick up. Scott Steiner in. An impressive Frankensteiner on Styles, and now Team Angle has their way on the two members of Team Jarrett. Samoa Joe in. He explodes. This is the Joe we want in 2012 (although I do like his current tag team). Kevin Nash in next and Joe does not wait to try and kill Nash, which Nash, of course, shrugs off. Old habits, I guess. Jeff Jarrett in last, and the lid of the cage comes down, so now we can have a winner. We go to a six-way split screen. WTF? It becomes a dull, messy hardcore match, like every hardcore match since ECW died. Angle and Styles go to the top of the cage Angle decides to go back in, so Styles jumps down on everyone… but it looks like he misses? That was not good. Now it becomes silly. Booker does a spinaroonie. Jarrett hits AJ with a chair. Joe argues with Jarrett. We play hit the hit the finishers game. Jarrett gets a guitar, plays hitting Styles, hits Booker instead, Styles gets the pin.
Winner: Team Jarrett
Lights go out, an engine revs and Bobby Lashley comes out dressed like an NFL footballer at a press conference. Angle laughs, Jarrett looks concerned, Lashley points, and this is just odd.
This match was there. It wasn’t actively awful. But it wasn’t real good, either. It was a match that tried to tell a story and failed. 5/10
Match 8: Mick Foley v Sting (c) – TNA Heavyweight Championship. The pre-match video package was really well done and gave this a big-time feel. The match was… Look. This is hard. The book gave it such a feel-good factor, and made such a big deal out of it, and these two are legends in the business. But they sold leg injuries only when they felt like it, no sold some moves, oversold others. The psychology, the heel/face dynamic was all over the shop. The pacing was so slow. This fifteen minutes lasted an hour. A barbed wire baseball bat got involved. A cameraman was taken out. Both men bled. Mr Socko appeared. And it was slow. Did I mention it was slow? So… very… slow… Both men try to climb out (on injured knees), and Foley falls to the ground first.
Winner (new champion): Mick Foley 4/10
You may notice I didn’t say a huge amount about the main event, when that was the match that made me feel the need to watch this show in the first place. That was because it was not a good match. Not even close. Interestingly, TNA have actually served up several worse main events since this one. All up, however, this show had a match average of 5.125/10, making it thumbs in the middle.
Much like the book.
Tags: book, countdown to lockdown, lockdown, Mick Foley, PPV, Sting, TNA, view from down here, vince mcmahon, wrestling, WWE